BLM - Bureau of Land Management

04/12/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/12/2024 10:58

BLM takes next step on proposed Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Mine in Nevada

News Release
BLM Nevada, Battle Mountain District, Tonopah Field Office

Media Contact:Randy Martin, [email protected], 775-861-6580
April 12, 2024

BLM takes next step on proposed Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Mine in Nevada
Draft analysis incorporates protections for endangered Tiehm's Buckwheat

TONOPAH, Nev.- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Mine Project. If approved, the project, located in southern Nevada's Silver Peak Range, could potentially produce enough lithium to supply nearly 370,000 electric vehicles each year. The project represents another step by the Biden-Harris administration to support the responsible, domestic development of critical minerals to power the clean energy economy.

BLM conducted its review in close coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to identify significant protections for the endangered Tiehm's Buckwheat, a desert flower endemic to the area. The project proponent, Ioneer, modified its mining proposal at the request of the BLM and FWS to minimize impacts to the plant and its critical habitat. The protections include redesigning and relocating project features, funding Tiehm's buckwheat propagation work, and developing a formal Tiehm's buckwheat protection plan.

"The Biden-Harris administration understands the important role mining will continue to play in the modern economy and the growing need for responsibly sourced critical minerals to meet our climate, infrastructure, and global competitiveness goals," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Dr. Steve Feldgus. "Federal agencies cooperating to solve issues efficiently while protecting vulnerable species and other irreplaceable resources is exactly how we will need to move forward if we're going to produce these critical minerals in the United States."

"Our public lands have an important role to play in powering the economy of the future," said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. "Under President Biden's leadership, BLM continues to support the development of critical minerals to power electric vehicles, renewable energy, new technologies, and critical infrastructure."

Lithium is one of 50 minerals identified as criticalby the U.S. Geological Survey, which considers importance of the mineral to the country's economy and national security and the vulnerability of its supply chains. Lithium batteries are used extensively in the growing market for portable electronic devices, vehicles, and grid storage applications.

BLM recently approved another lithium mine at Thacker Pass, also in Nevada. Critical mineral supply security is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration, which is taking a whole-of-government approach that includes funding for new technologies, support for processing and refining facilities, identifying sources of critical minerals in mine waste, and working with partner nations to improve supply diversity and the sustainability of mining worldwide.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2023, the glass and ceramics industries remained the leading domestic users of boron products, accounting for an estimated 65% of total borates consumption. Boron is also used as a component in abrasives, cleaning products, insecticides, insulation, and in the production of semiconductors.

"This draft analysis is the result of strong engagement and work with the proponent, Tribal Nations, State and local governments, and our agency partners," said BLM Nevada State Director Jon Raby. "We know the importance of responsible mineral development in Nevada, and we look forward to hearing the public's feedback on this draft assessment."

The proposed project would be located within the Silver Peak Range approximately 40 miles southwest of Tonopah, Nevada. If approved, the project would employ up to 500 workers during construction and up to 350 workers during operations, generating an estimated $125 million in wages annually during the life of the mine.

In developing the draft environmental review for the proposal, the BLM worked closely with Tribal, State, and local governments, and other national and local stakeholders to identify and assess potential impacts of development. To ensure appropriate evaluation of potential impacts to cultural resources and sites, the BLM worked closely with the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, Yomba Shoshone Tribe, Bishop Paiute Tribe, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley, Benton (Utu Utu Gwaitu) Paiute Tribe, Ely Shoshone Tribe, Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone, and Shoshone-Paiute of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.

Publication of the draft EIS for the proposed mine opens a 45-day public comment period, ending on May 27, 2024. During the public comment period, BLM will conduct one in-person and one virtual public meeting on the proposal and will continue to engage in government-to-government consultation with Tribal Nations. Input provided during the public comment period will inform the development of a final environmental review and record of decision for the proposal. A record of decision is expected before the end of the year.

Interested parties may review the draft environmental assessment and meeting information and submit comments online via the BLM National NEPA Register(preferred). Written comments may be submitted to Rhyolite Ridge EIS, 50 Bastian Road, Battle Mountain, NV 89820.


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America's public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.